Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Do Republicans have the courage/chutzpah to block Trump at the convention?

The only hope that Trump opponents have now of preventing The Donald from getting the Republican nomination is a contested convention.  Trump will have a plurality of delegates, and a consistent polling lead, but he may not have a majority of delegates.  In that case, the contest may go to a second ballot, and pledged delegates will be free to vote however they want on that second ballot.  So, if Trump's opponents can hold him under 50% of the delegates and convince a majority of delegates to vote for a single, specific, non-Trump on the second ballot, Trump gets screwed out of the nomination.

I've written before (here) about why I don't think this is likely.  It has too high a probability of fracturing, or even destroying the party.  Really, though, this is about comparative risks.  The basic question is this:  are Republican leaders more afraid of nominating Trump, or of opposing him?

There are plenty of reasons to fear a Trump nomination.  While we should not write him off as a sure-loser (he has outperformed expectations by so much that we cannot be sure of anything regarding Trump), his weaknesses as a general election candidate are obvious.  He is probably a weak candidate, and he could drag down vulnerable congressional incumbents with him.  That's a real risk.  The risk of blocking Trump at the convention, though, is that riots ensue (think 1968) and the party fractures beyond repair, while Trump directs the full force of his wrath at whoever led the coup.

Which risk is bigger?  It doesn't matter.  What matters is which risk the Republican muckety-mucks think is bigger.  How do we know that?  We look at their past behavior.  How far have any Republican leaders gone to oppose Trump?  Not very far. Take a look at the state of endorsements so far here.  Cruz is ahead of Trump, but compared to Clinton's lead over Sanders, Cruz's lead is razor-thin, and Trump is ahead of Kasich on this point scale!  And, if you combine all the points that Cruz and Kasich have, it's still a mere fraction of Hillary's endorsement points!  Republican leaders haven't even been willing to endorse non-Trumps.

Of course, if endorsements decided nomination contests, this all would have played out very differently.  But, the point is that Republican leaders are hardly even trying to stop Trump.  Why?  They are afraid of him.

If Republican leaders are too scared to endorse a non-Trump now, what makes anyone think they will have the courage/chutzpah to steal the nomination from him at the convention?

I admit, I don't get it.

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